Tuesday 29 January 2013

Bad news and good news

At just before 11.00pm the EA rang us back to inform us that the river would stay drained for 48 hours so we spent the night sat at a tilt on the bottom. It was a pretty night though
 This was our situation in the morning; despite slacking off all our ropes we still had the mooring bollard part way out of the ground by morning
 As the tide comes in they have to close the sluices for awhile until it turns again and we acrued just enough water to get ourselves off with a struggle - needless to say G's physio appointment had to be re-scheduled
 We moved as far as Littleport before the wind threw another hooley at us so we called it a day and snuggled down for the afternoon. This morning we did a Yarwood and pulled pins at 8.20 am - yes us! - neither of us could sleep in the wind so we thought we might as well get on with it. When we reached Ely they were pollarding all the willows in Willow Walk. This young man looked very nonchalant up there with his chain saw whilst the others fed the debris into a shredder thingy.
 A quick chat with those involved 
You Tarzan, me ..
 and no prizes for guessing where some of it ended up!
 The good news is that the EA say they will be dredging between Denver and Salters early March and that the Navigation will be re-opened for Easter. All we'll need then is the Nene Lock repairs to be complete, the Nene not to be on 'strong stream' and a level tide - that's not too much to hope for is it?

Sunday 27 January 2013

Land locked locks

Following several loads of washing and lovely long (by boat standards) showers on Saturday morning, we discovered that the water point was locked off out of use - no explanation. So we decided to move on towards Denver sluice to use the water point and pump out up there. Well, this is how we found the pump out! Graham managed to use bits from our self pump out to get the job done and reported the problem to EA. Fortunately the well insulated water tap was working.
Leaving MR on the service point, I walked the dogs up onto the sluice
 Looking back upstream
 We intended to move down through the Relief Channel to Downham Market this Sunday morning, but there was altogether too much water running and the hooley that had blown all night, keeping us awake, was still blowing. So that was that plan out of the window. G has to be in Ely tomorrow for a physio appointment so he's going to have to walk into Downham to catch the train. Given that we were temporarily stuck, G decided to go and have a look at the prison gates locks that are keeping us here together with high tides and lock stoppages. I must admit, it was pretty shocking.
First we have to go through Denver Lock. This shows the sandbank on the exit side ie downstream on the tidal stretch. In the foreground is the lock landing for coming upstream and the lock itself is just off to the bottom left hand corner of this photo

 You can see the lock itself in this picture
 Standing over the lock itself, looking downstream the way we need to leave. How low this tide is I don't know, but nothing and no-one is coming through this lock in either direction.
 A little further on we need to turn left into Salters Lock which gives us access to the Middle Levels, River Nene (in flood again) and, our ultimate goal, the Grand Union Canal to rejoin the waterways network.

This is the entrance to Salters Lock, between the fence and the tyres.
 Mmmmm ...
 All contributions to the crane hire and low loader fund will be gratefully received!
As I type this (it's just after 10.00pm Sunday), they've opened up the big sluices due to flood water (Earith to Bedford), high tides and melting snow and the back of MR is now 15 ft out and sat on the bottom on the tilt. We are waiting   for EA to ring us back as to when we are likely to be re-floated - I suspect that there's not going to be a lot of sleep to be had tonight either.

Saturday 26 January 2013

The cold didn't save me!

The Yarwoods were off at 8.30 yesterday and we loitered over  a leisurely breakfast and some last photos before engaging in the 'Indian rope trick' - our rear rope was frozen so solid that we had to knock the pin out and chuck rope and pin in hot water before we could untie it.
Funnily enough they were saying on the radio about it being RSPB bird watch day and how the Mistle Thrush was dying out - well lookee who we have here then...

No sign of 'our' Kingfishers, but we disturbed plenty of their neighbours as we left in ferociously cold weather. I've never ever seen so many as we did in that first hour and Whooper swans.

 We passed Winifred Beatrice, but Graham and Corrine hadn't arrived yet - catch you on the next visit guys!

Stopped off at Little Ouse Moorings for a natter with Natalie, diesel and that oh so desperately needed water - first load in the washing machine the second the hose pipe hit the filler! A quick catch up with NB Joint Decision although I didn't see Barbara - hello Barbara and please pass my apologies to your man for my gabbling on - I hadn't seen anyone to talk to except the checkout guys at Aldis (and they are too busy working to engage in conversation) and my husband - and everyone knows husbands don't do talking!

So with the washing machine working it's little socks off (and knickers, sweatshirts and trousers) we headed back onto the Great Ouse to our mooring for the night at Windmill Moorings near Hillgay Bridge where there is a waterpoint to re-fill again after all the washing

This is the view from our window tonight....
Oh well .... back to reality

Thursday 24 January 2013

I do hate democracy

At least, I do when I'm outvoted!

Despite kind offers of water delivery from Graham on Winnie Bea and the possibility that the water point might de-frost and that we might kindly be allowed to use it; the democratic vote has been exercised and we shall be moving tomorrow. The trouble with this, for me, is that there is nowhere we can go that is even a quarter as nice as here - baring in mind that, 'where we can go' is severely restricted at the moment.

So, once on the move, the priority will be full water tanks and then heading for Downham Market whilst catching up with the washing. Never mind, I've had a fabulous holiday and we can come back again later.

With this being our last day, it was off to Aldi to fill the veg drawer and fridge to maximum capacity before hitting the woods for one last 2 3/4 hour walk. Returning home, it seemed right and proper that the otter came out to play as dusk fell...... perfik.

 In Brandon Park today we found this, previously undiscovered (by us), mausoleum. Evidently it was built by Edward Bliss who bought the Park in 1820. As Lord of the Manor and High Sheriff of Suffolk he wished to be buried on his own estate which duly happened upon his death in 1845. 14 years later his wife Sarah joined him.
 Unfortunately, the Park was sold outside of the Bliss family in 1903 and the new incumbent chucked the remains out to St. Peter's Church in Brandon. A bit off what? Hardly cricket!!!
One last snowy forest picture and it's back to the flood banks for me and the boys. The only thing that can save us now is the desperately cold weather that has been forecast tomorrow. Would you want to be on the tiller for several hours in temps of -3? Not me, I've a Paella to make!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

The Kingfishers are still playing hard to get

We've realised why we haven't seen so much of the Kingfishers recently, it's because they've swapped banks onto our side. That isn't, however, as good as it sounds as we only have one porthole on that side towards the rear of MR
 and that porthole is within 5ft of this, their fishing branch - too close. We frighten them off no matter how carefully G approaches the window with the camera. Very good for just watching though.

 The pigs are a somewhat easier subject
 We arranged an expedition to visit Lesley's brother today, so the 4 dogs were in the back of the car together. Any of you familiar with the Tibetan Terrier breed will know how they hate to have their heads at ground level - a chin rest must always be found when at all possible. Fortunately they both managed to find comfortable, black, chin cushions.
 Baxter availed himself of Fletcher's rump
 Whilst Muttley made free with Floyd's withers
 When we arrived, Floyd was very quick to give his 'Uncle David' a birthday greeting
After lunch and a gossip we all headed to the woods with David's black Labrador, Bentley. I haven't put up any more pictures 'cause their's only so many pics of snow covered woods a body can bear - they might be different woods, but they all look the same covered in snow!

Monday 21 January 2013

It's now two weeks since we filled our water tank

Our time here is now limited as we haven't put water in our tanks for 2 weeks although, this morning, Simon from Aston Precision Engineering, let Yarwood and MR fill a 25 ltr water carrier each. Thank you.
Today I heard from Graham and Corinne off of NB Winifred Beatrice (or Winnie Bea as they call her) who moor just downstream at the lovely East Fen Fisheries moorings. Their water point is iced up, but they have given us a contact for future use. Thank you guys and let's hope we can meet up before they let us out before we leave.
So, like everyone else I guess, there's not a lot going on; we're just enjoying the walking and the easy access to fresh food which is allowing me to cook whatever my little heart desires. There is a pub but their beer is as cold as their premises and, quite frankly, I'd rather be warm and toasty on the boat, after a long walk, than shiver in a cold pub with cold beer - shame as it's from a good local brewery just up the road.  It's saving us a fortune though as a blazing fire might have led us astray!

We didn't get all the extra snow that we'd been threatened with on Friday and I re-visited the horses who had plenty of hay and seemed perfectly hardy and happy - good sensible stock. Sunday wasn't nice - leaden grey skies with strong, bitter wind and fine snow whipping at my face as I walked.

We've upgraded Baxter's coat to a new waterproof with a separate fleece underneath and he seems very happy with it. He loves the snow providing he is warm enough. 
 Muttley is somewhere up in that copse having legged it across the field after a pair of Fallow Deer
 Last night we had another 4" of snow which made the walking less slippery. Fletcher checks out the fresh fall
 NB Yarwood covered in a new fall of the white stuff
 Time to jump on Lesley as she tries to get off the boat
 A bit of a design fault with Muttley - he ends up with ice balls between his toes which hurt to walk on
 So, after dinner it's time to read Baxter his bed time story - are you sitting comfortably....?